Twitter plans to sell usernames to boost revenue
Twitter has considered selling usernames to generate new revenue as owner Elon Musk attempts to resuscitate the company’s business, two people with knowledge of the plan have said.
Twitter employees have had conversations about selling certain usernames for the service since at least December, the people said. The engineers discussed setting up online auctions where people can bid on usernames, which are the words, numbers, or string of characters that follow the @ sign by which accounts are identified on the platform. Mr. Musk’s username, for example, is @elonmusk.
It’s unclear whether the project will go ahead and whether the plan affects all usernames or just a subset, the people said. But Mr Musk said last month he wanted to start eliminating inactive accounts on Twitter and free up 1.5 billion usernames. Only certain usernames, such as well-known people, brands and popular names, may have value.
The social media company has been in turmoil since Mr. Musk bought it for $44 billion in October. Given the high price of the deal, the billionaire is under pressure to make the purchase a success.
Mr. Musk has since cut Twitter’s expenses, ordering layoffs, cutting other costs and halting supplier payments. At the same time, he’s been trying to find new avenues to make money as Twitter experiences a sharp drop in ad revenue. It offered a revamped subscription plan so users pay for verification badges, and the company filed paperwork with the Treasury Department to process the payments.
Inside Elon Musk’s Twitter
Mr Musk said his vision was to create “a multi-purpose app”, similar to China’s WeChat, which more than a billion people use to find information, connect with friends, make payments and order food.
Unique usernames, also known as IDs, can be lucrative. They are often claimed by early adopters of social media platforms and some people and brands are willing to pay thousands of dollars for them. Black markets have sprung up where people can buy “original gangster,” or OG, usernames that are sought after because they feature a short word or number and may have been abandoned by their owners.
Twitter and Mr. Musk did not respond to requests for comment.
from Twitter rules prohibit the purchase and sale of handles. The trade has already attracted pirates. In 2020, a 17-year-old in Florida was arrested after he hacked into Twitter to get usernames to sell, compromising the accounts of Mr. Musk and celebrities.
Telegram, a popular messaging platform, said it would allow people to auction their grips in October.
Four days after acquiring the company in October, Mr. Musk tweeted that he “absolutelyseek to purge accounts that have been inactive for a year, some of which have coveted usernames. In December, he said Twitter would release account names who were “obvious account deletions with no tweets and no login for years.”
His plan raised concerns among those who feared the company would delete the accounts of people who died and whose Twitter pages were used to memorialize them. In July – the last time the company released financial figures – Twitter had nearly 238 million daily active users who saw ads.
Twitter also continues to lay off employees. Mr. Musk has reduced the company’s workforce by about 75% from the 7,500 employees it had when he took office. Last week, new layoffs affected dozens of workers, including advertising engineers and employees working on trust and safety, three people with knowledge of the cuts said. The information earlier reported the layoffs.
This week, Mr Musk, who also runs electric carmaker Tesla, emailed Twitter employees saying he was available for meetings after finishing “most of my Tesla work”. He reminded them that he had to approve all product design and engineering changes “no matter how small,” according to a copy of the memo, which was seen by The New York Times.
“We will agonize until we get the most perfect product possible,” Musk wrote.